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Mattress Buying Guide - Part 1

 

Most people use their beds for a variety of activities; from watching television to reading to simply relaxing, the bed can be the focal point around which daily activities revolve.  Despite the fact that a person spends a third of their life asleep, the quality of their mattress is low on the list of concerns.  If a full night's sleep leaves a person fatigued, stiff and sore when they wake in the morning, it might be time to start shopping for a mattress. 

The life expectancy of most spring-based mattresses is about eight to ten years, but with good quality materials an innerspring mattress can last for eleven to fifteen years.  Typically, the more you spend on a quality mattress, the longer it is going to perform.  Unfortunately, even the best innerspring mattresses are going to break down over time due to daily wear and tear.  The springs within the mattress are designed to cushion the body as it reclines upon the mattress, but constant crushing of the springs will eventually deform the material.  Essentially, over extended time of smashing and recoiling, the springs will lose their springiness.  As this happens, the materials cradle the body in a less efficient manner, resulting in a misshapen mattress that cannot give the support needed for a comfortable night's sleep.

Memory foam and latex foam mattresses typically last from ten to fifteen years.  Like innerspring mattresses, repeated compression can distort the shape of the foam comprising the body of the mattress.  This deformation can lead to restless nights of sleep as the body seeks to find the most comfortable position on a pad of foam that no longer will attune to the correct shape for optimal support.

purify-mattress-protectionAnother reason for seeking a new mattress is a question of hygiene.  While a person sleeps, their body is busily rebuilding itself, including the layers of tissue that comprise skin cells.  As a person moves in their sleep--shifting, tossing and turning--they are abrading off tiny layers of skin cells that the body constantly is replacing.  These millions of dead skin cells collect in the mattress; worse, this collection of dead skin cells off excellent nutritive value for dust mites that enjoy living within the safe confines of your mattress.  When the mites eat those dead skin cells, the remains have to go somewhere; it is estimated that approximately a pound of dead skin and fecal material from dust mites will accumulate per person per year in a mattress.

On top of the dead skin and tiny mites feeding off it, people sweat during the night.  Mattresses, especially foam mattresses, can trap this moisture within the matrix of the construction materials.  The end result is the interior of a mattress can promote the growth of mold and mildew, which produce spores that can lead to allergic reactions and the onset of asthma.

Most people know when their mattress begins to sag and develop a valley in the middle, it is time to buy a new one.  However much a person knows that they need to buy a new mattress, most consumers will delay the purchase for up to three years.  That's a long time to put up with sore muscles, aching joints and fatigue from a terrible night's sleep.

Mattress SizeThere are several factors to consider when beginning to shop for a mattress beyond the simple question of memory foam or innerspring.  One of the major determinant factors of mattress shopping is the size of the mattress required.  If more than one person is sleeping in the bed, it is a good idea to start at a full-sized mattress--typically 54 inches wide by 75 inches long--and go up from there.  If children or pets that often sleep in the same bed, it might be wise to start looking at queen-sized mattresses--60 inches wide by 80 inches long.  If a queen-sized mattress is not enough, then there are two larger sizes available, as well:  king-sized, measuring in at 76 inches wide by 80 inches long or the California king at only 72 inches wide but 84 inches long.

While it is important to have a bed that will comfortably fit inside a bedroom without overwhelming it, one factor often overlooked is the age of the house.  Being able to transport the bed into an older house can sometimes be an issue, especially with the box spring or foundation of the bed.  The foundation is typically the solid piece on which the mattress rests, lending additional support to the mattress itself.  For queen-sized mattresses, the foundation is typically one piece and can be difficult to maneuver in older style houses, especially if they have narrow staircases or sloping ceilings.  It is possible to get a foundation for a queen mattress split into two pieces, but be prepared to spend a little more.

The bed frame itself is an additional consideration, especially if deciding to change the size of the mattress.  Depending on the style of the bed, a new mattress might actually rest higher than the headboard or the footboard.  Before shelling out the money for a new mattress, it would be wise to measure the height of the bottom of the headboard from where the rails connect to the headboard.  Typically, if the mattress is going to be thicker than fifteen inches, ordering a low-profile foundation to support it is a good idea.  This will help to protect the mattress resting higher than the headboard does!

Adjustable BedOne final consideration when shopping for a mattress is to buy a one-sided, pillowtop mattress or to opt for a two-sided mattress.  The logic behind the two-sided mattress was that, when flipping and rotating the mattress, pressure would push down on the coils from the opposite direction and would therefore aid in the springs maintaining their original shape.  It was a way of keeping the springs springy.  However, flipping and rotating the mattress can be a pain, and so many people simply ignore the need to perform this monthly maintenance.

A pillowtop, or one-sided mattress should still be rotated (head of the mattress moved down to the foot of the bed) about once a month.  This is in part to help extend the life of the mattress by allowing the materials a time of rest in which they are not put under the same stresses on a daily basis.  The materials used to manufacture beds are also improved over what they were years ago, and so the lifetime of the mattress is typically extended, lessening the need to flip the mattress as well as rotate it.  The foam used in the pillowtop mattress can also help prevent the springs from becoming deformed and losing their supportive abilities.

When taken together, there are several factors to consider when shopping for a mattress.  The important thing, however, is to not be rushed into a decision and to buy a mattress that fits into each individual's lifestyle, home and budget.  Beginning the process armed with the knowledge of what is available to the consumer will help to alleviate the stress and worry over purchasing a new mattress, and that should help anyone sleep better at night

Continue to the Mattress Buying Guide - Part 2

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